You know all those great websites that teach you how to do things by yourself? You know, the sites like building your own multi-level desk, turn a HotWheels into a Flash Drive, and cool utilities that help make planners, like PocketMod (TechCrunch). Well, if you are trying to find more DIY (Do it Yourself) tutorials, then I would take a look at the new service, Instructables, a step by step collaboration site. Instructables is great and you can find just about anything in there already! How does it have so many already? It is because instead of people making websites to show how they make things, they can now go here and use their interface and great features to show everyone!

Here is what you do to start finding some DIY lessons. First, go to Instructables. You don’t have to signup to view, but if you want to contribute, signup. On the main page, you a presented with three featured projects. Keep refreshing the page and you will see other featured projects. You can click on the images for the project to view the guide. But, instead of doing this. Lets click on the “Explore” button on the top right. This will show the most recent additions to Instructables. If you don’t see anything of interest in the listing there, try searching or viewing the tags. Yes, these projects are managed using tags too! Click on “All Tags” to view the Tag Cloud of projects. Assuming that you found a project and click on it, you will see something similar to the following:

The project page will show tags on the left, and if you are a member, you can add your own tags to it for yourself. You also get your basic member information on the left. But of course, this is not what the site is about, it is about the instructions! In the right column you will see the step by step guide that the member has submitted for you. You get pictures, movies, descriptions, comments… basically you get everything you need to know. Some pictures are even more detailed by providing more pictures and description blocks, somewhat like what you see below:

Browse around, find something to make. When you are done with that, maybe consider making your own project? It is free and Instructables makes it a painless process. Get everything ready. Take your photos, movies, make paragraphs describing steps, etc. Then signup and login. Go to the main page and click on the link, “Add a Project.” To to left you will see the link, “Load Images.” In here, you will be able to upload your files for this project. Once they are in, you will notice that the library is getting filled up. In the library, click on an image. You will then be transfered to its page where you can select “Edit” on the left. The edit section allows you to link multiple images or movies and add descriptions to that image. Once you finish doing all of that, you want to go back to the “Add a Project” section and you will see something like below:

This is where you name the project and include the images that have all their information attached. The information you fill in here is for the project description, tags, and to make the sequence that each step come into play. You fill in the basic information, and use their simple Drag and Drop method for inserting the images into the Main Images area and the Steps Area. After you get your images into the Main Images area, like you see above, you continue to Step 1. This is where you fill in the first step of the project only. Give it its title and the instructions. Then drag your files for it from the library into the Slide 1 Images Area. Once this is set, click on “Add Project.” You will now end up at another page where you can add your next step just like the previous page. Continue through this process for every step until you are done! Now, that was fun, wasn’t it!

Well, this has become a lengthy tutorial for Instructables itself. Maybe I should make a tutorial on Instructables on how to use Instructables :) If you find something interesting or if you have made your own, let me know! I would love to see it as always. Happy learning! By the way, this project Java Server Pages (JSP) and AJAX for its backend.

Instructables, DIY Step by Step Collaboration.

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